CROSS-BORDER ISSUES

Zhuhai bridge could prompt Hong Kong-born pupils to come to city for schooling

A Zhuhai survey finds more than 1,000 kindergarten and school students could potentially make the journey to Hong Kong to attend classes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 9:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 10:56pm

Around half of around 2,100 students with right of abode in Hong Kong and living in Zhuhai could be coming to study in the city once the new bridge from the mainland city opens, prompting worries about the strain on schools and neighbourhoods in districts close to the structure.

Educators and district councillors called for more resources for schools in Tung Chung, Tuen Mun and Kwai Tsing to support the spike in pupils, as well as planning for transport and infrastructure in the districts.

From Shenzhen to Hong Kong: The long cross-border trek for a special breed of schoolchildren

According to a survey conducted in November last year by the Zhuhai Education Bureau, commissioned by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, there were 959 Hong Kong children in kindergartens and 1,193 others in schools in Zhuhai.

Among these, parents of 35 expressed an interest to study in Hong Kong at the kindergarten level, 597 at primary level and 506 at secondary level in the 2018-19 school year.

Federation chairman Wong Kam-leung said there could be more since they had found during visits to Macau and Zhongshan that there were quite a number of Hong Kong students in the two cities.

He added Hong Kong’s reputable education system, coupled with free schooling in some institutions, made the city an attractive proposition.

Learning, the hard way

He urged the Education Bureau to plan ahead in view of the influx and the government to assess the potential impact on transport infrastructure.

Nancy Lam Chui-ling, chairwoman of an association of kindergarten principals in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing, urged the bureau to increase resources for schools in affected areas for staffing and facilities.

Lam, who is also a Kwai Tsing district councillor, said more planning had to be conducted for infrastructure in the area.

“Parents accompanying these students to school could be hanging around in the district during school hours, which could put a strain on the infrastructure and cause friction with locals,” she said.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman said if parents decided to bring their children to Hong Kong schools, it would where practicable arrange for convenient transport facilities.

She also said the bureau would closely monitor the impact of the opening of the bridge on cross-border schooling and negotiate with the relevant bureaus and departments on follow-up arrangements.